Saturday, 1 April 2023

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Sam Altman’s rivals say the OpenAI name no longer fits

Sam Altman’s rivals say the OpenAI name no longer fits

What’s in a name? Take OpenAI, for instance, the game-changing creator of ChatGPT that was founded as a nonprofit with the goal of bringing safety and transparency to the development of artificial intelligence. This week, it unveiled a new and improved A.I. tool called GPT-4 without revealing much about the long-anticipated program’s inner workings. Critics, including Elon Musk, are questioning the direction of the more secretive “capped-profit” venture heavily backed by Microsoft.

Musk, the Tesla and Twitter CEO who cofounded OpenAI when it launched in 2015—and made a hefty donation—noted the change last month, tweeting:

“OpenAI was created as an open source (which is why I named it “Open” AI), non-profit company to serve as a counterweight to Google, but now it has become a closed source, maximum-profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft. Not what I intended at all.”

Of course, this might be dismissed as the grumblings of a mercurial billionaire—he also complained this week about how “a non-profit to which I donated ~$100M somehow became a $30B market cap for-profit”—but Musk isn’t alone in noting the incongruity now lurking in the name OpenAI. 

Ben Schmidt, an A.I. expert and executive at information cartography firm Nomic AI, joined in with a tweet on Tuesday: “I think we can call it shut on ‘Open’ AI: the 98-page paper introducing GPT-4 proudly declares that they’re disclosing *nothing* about the contents of their training set.” Schmidt shared a portion of the paper, titled GPT-4 Technical Report, that reads, “Given both the competitive landscape and the safety implications of large-scale models like GPT-4, this report contains no further details about the architecture (including model size), hardware, training compute, dataset construction, training method, or similar.”

“I don’t mind sharing nothing about the technical details of your model, but at least rename the company from ⁦@OpenAI to ClosedAI,” tweeted Walid Magdy, a fellow at the A.I.-focused Alan Turing Institute in London.

When podcaster Lex Fridman tweeted on Thursday that he would interview OpenAI CEO Sam Altman next week and asked for suggestions on what to ask him, the irony of the company’s name came up several times.

Anton Wiehe, cofounder of German A.I. startup AdaLab, suggested asking whether OpenAI would “consider a name change” and why it’s “against open-source now.”

“We were…

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